Contemporary Asian Australian Poets
Language, Identity and Culture
In this module, you will examine how language is used to represent identity and culture. In this case, the culture in question is that of the contemporary Asian Australian population.
Purpose and Context
Until the early 1970s, the migration of non-white foreigners to Australia was restricted by the White Australia Policy. Asian immigrants who did successfully enter Australia experienced widespread racism that had by then become entrenched in all areas of life.
The repeal of the White Australia Policy in 1973 gave way to increased interest in making Australia a more multicultural nation, and migration to Australia by foreigners was heavily advocated for by the government and businesses. However, racism towards Asians within Australian society persisted, as it does so in today’s world. The White Australia Policy was repealed in part due to the crises that had afflicted Asia in the middle of the twentieth century, and because of the desperate need for Australia to modernise and expand its economy before it was left behind by the rest of the world.
As such, with the influx of Asian immigrants to Australia beginning in the mid-1970s and continuing to the present day, have come millions of unique stories of loss and despair, but also of hope and freedom.
Because of the prevailing racism that exists in Australian society, many are quick to view the Asian immigrant population as monolithic, and so their individual voices are repressed.
But as your study of the contemporary Asian Australian poets will show you, the experiences of the poets and those they write about are diverse and fascinating, and thus challenge many widely held assumptions about what it means to be an Asian person living in Australia.